Belfast Telegraph

Bell won't ring alarm ahead of trip to Galway

By Michael Sadlier

Though there is little outward sign of much alarm after posting two consecutive PRO12 defeats, the pressure to now come away with a win from Galway is clearly cranking up.

And in terms of squad selection, it would appear that Craig Gilroy's apparent return to action could hardly be better timed as Ulster attempt to bring more finishing power to their game.

Gilroy, who missed Ireland's summer tour to North America because of a groin problem, is thought to be in line for bench duty against Connacht on Saturday night and should therefore see some game time.

Elsewhere, Robbie Diack returns to the fold after being rested for last week's agonising last-gasp defeat to Glasgow Warriors which will give Mark Anscombe several options to ponder after Roger Wilson's outing at number six worked pretty well alongside Nick Williams.

With Tommy Bowe expected to return at some stage over the next fortnight – he has been named in Joe Schmidt's training squad ahead of next month's autumn internationals – Anscombe may well opt to keep wingers Michael Allen and David McIlwaine in the starting back three along with Jared Payne.

Elsewhere, Stuart Olding remains out of contention as his hip-flexer injury is keeping the 20-year-old – who secured his first Ireland cap in the summer tour to North America – in the treatment room along with Andrew Trimble.

Even though Anscombe's squad were left floored by last Friday's late sucker punch Glasgow try from James Eddie – which then presented Stuart Hogg with the winning conversion – assistant coach Jonny Bell insists that there were still plenty of positives to be found in the home side's performance ahead of Saturday evening's interprovincial.

"We were obviously disappointed, but we're not reading too much into it," Bell said regarding last week's reverse. "From a performance perspective, against Glasgow, I thought we caused one of the stingiest defences in the league a lot of problems."

Much has been made of at least three gilt-edged chances last Friday that Ulster failed to finish off which, ultimately, ensured that Gregor Townsend's side were never out of touch when it came to snatching their late victory.

"We didn't take those opportunities (against Glasgow) and that's the key thing," he says.

"But we're also positive that we can now put that behind us. We're looking to address the issues that came up in that game and just make sure that we take the chances when they come along in Galway.

Before the season started, few would have believed that Ulster would now be going into their first interprovincial clash of the campaign without having tasted victory, but Bell is determined to just get on with the job.

"They're (Connacht) one from two and whether we play them on the back of zero from two or off the back of an 11 game winning streak they are a proud province playing at home.

"They've got a new coach, they have some exciting backs and they are maybe playing a little bit more rugby than they were before so there are real threats there.

"We firmly believe that if we get our processes right and take our chances we can win in Galway."

Belief must now become reality.

Belfast Telegraph


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